We recently commented on the role that Facebook is playing in courts across Canada. More and more, parties involved in lawsuits are pulling content from Facebook to either prove or disprove a claim. This is occurring despite privacy rights and settings.
But did you know that your private life can be exposed in court through photographs not posted on social networking sites like Facebook?
The Law requires that all available documentation be produced that may prove or disprove a material fact in a case. Photographs considered relevant to claims are included in this requirement, even if it means peeking into the private lives of those involved.
BC Supreme Court case Abougoush v. Sauve gives us an example where a Judge orders the plaintiff to produce her private vacation photos in a case defended by ICBC.
In this case, the plaintiff, Ms. Abougoush, is injured in a car accident. She says her injuries limit her activity while on two vacations after the accident. She would “lay by the pool, rest on the beach, float in the pool…but not participate in any physical activity other than social gatherings at a bar or dinner.” Ms. Abougoush says she was in constant pain.
Ms. Abougoush’s lawyers do not produce photographs taken from the two vacations following the accident. They believe her privacy rights are more important than any value the photos may have in court.
The defendants appeal, asking that the plaintiff produce photos from her two vacations.
The Judge agrees to review the 172 vacation photos. He finds all of them relevant to the lawsuit. He also believes that none of the pictures depict embarrassing or socially unacceptable situations that should be withheld to preserve Ms. Abougoush’s privacy.
The Judge orders that all photos be given to the defendants for use in court.